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Dining halls join meatless campaign

Claire Brady | Monday, October 29, 2012

Today marks the second week of Notre Dame Food Services’ participation in Meatless Mondays, a nationwide campaign to encourage healthy, sustainable and cruelty-free dining.

Lisa Wenzel, assistant director of catering and special events at Food Services, said the movement aims to offer a wider range of meatless options, which she hopes will give students exposure to both new foods and new ideas.

The Monday Campaigns, a campaign that dedicates the first day of each week to health, and the Humane Society of the United States coordinated the movement, which is co-sponsored at Notre Dame by the Office of Sustainability.

“The Humane Society actually approached us first about starting Meatless Mondays” Wenzel said. “They introduced us to the concept, and we really liked its educational benefits and its benefits for nutrition and sustainability.”

While the dining halls will continue to serve meat on Mondays, consistent with other universities implementing the program, Wenzel said it is important that students learn about the nutritional and environmental advantages of eating less meat. These include decreased rates of heart disease, obesity and several types of cancer, as well as a reduced carbon footprint and of course the promotion of animal welfare.

“You might not be worried [about the health risks] as students, but later in life, it’s good to be aware of,” Wenzel said.

In order to keep the new options appealing to students, Wenzel said the dining halls would try to serve meatless versions of familiar dishes, such as fajitas and burgers, along with some unique ethnic options.

“Last week we had vegetarian sliders, like veggie burgers and falafel burgers on a smaller scale, and people seemed to like them,” she said. “It’s all about having something you like and enjoying it without meat.”

Some meatless dishes in store at the dining halls today include portabella fajitas, along with goat cheese and asparagus pasta, quinoa rice corn cakes, savory vegetable pancakes and an Indian stew.

In regards to the relationship between Meatless Mondays and the Catholic tradition of meatless Fridays, Wenzel said Monday was designated as the dining halls’ day to incorporate less meat because of the support from the national program. The Monday Campaigns organization promotes various movements to make Monday a day of increased commitment to health because, at the beginning of the week, it is a logical day for starting new habits and resolutions.

Meatless Fridays in Lent would continue unchanged alongside Meatless Mondays next semester, Wenzel said.